The Anglo American phosphate mine is located in the Brazilian state of Goiás and possesses one of Brazil's most important phosphate rock deposits, with the site being the country's second largest producer of phosphate rock concentrate. Despite the site having been in operation since 1979, the mining team only started using explosives in 2004 when rocks with greater hardness started to appear in the mine's geological profile. Rock excavation was previously performed mechanically. Until 2013, only rocks with high hardness were blasted, this following the standard drilling grid that was defined in 2004 without any changes in the blast parameters. The aim of this paper is to show how fragmentation optimisation has yielded positive results at all stages of the production chain, from the mine to the mill passing through an impact hammer crusher, a rod mill and ball mill, operating in close circuit with hydrocyclones.
While incorporating the mine to mill holistic approach during the operational integration, the focus was on defining the blasting domains and respective optimal fragmentation and measuring the benefits of blasting in terms of reduction in energy and grinding media consumed in the comminution processes. In the first stage, the blasting team made changes to the blasting parameters and assessed the effects of these changes on fragmentation using computer software and on-site measurements. This generated a database that made it possible to divide the mine into blasting domains. For the second stage, teams from the plant, geology, mine planning and operation departments jointly made comparisons between the performance when processing stockpiles, which only included high hardness blasted ore (20–30 per cent of blasted ore). Changing the drilling grid's size from 3.0 m × 3.8 m to 2.0 m × 2.6 m for high hardness rock with the presence of silicates resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in the P80 for the blasted material (from 459 to 278 mm), while changing the grid from 3.0 m × 3.8 m to 2.6 m × 3.2 m for high hardness rock without the presence of silicates generated a reduction of 25 per cent (from 270 to 204 mm). There were gains observed from the measurements at the mineral processing plant in terms of specific energy spent on comminution and on the consumption of grinding bodies in the rod mill. There was a measured reduction of circulating load during secondary grinding and a reduction in slime generation.
Silva, A C, Martins, P A A, Silva, E M S, Fonseca, A L S, Ferrari, A J D, Cunha, E B, Silva, V M, Matthew, V O and Vilela, D R T, 2015. Fragmentation optimisation – adopting mine to mill for reducing costs and increasing productivity, in Proceedings 11th International Symposium on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, pp 363–368 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).